Harvest 2015

‘Twas a year of not much planting, as other work during the spring took up most of the time.  I don’t like the phrase when one door closes one door opens – I think it suggests a balance that while it may exist in the aggregate, like flipping a coin, tells us very little about the likely sequence of events.  I could, were I to believe in what such a phrase suggests, believe that the not planting of the usual contingent of seeds and seedling led to this harvest of acorns.  I do not choose to believe that.

Many was the year I would gather acorns, never in great quantity, but always far more than for which I had use.  It was that each somehow seemed by itself a desirable thing, justifying the gathering.  I’ve had that feeling all my life – I don’t know why.  I romantically speculate that it has something to do with ancient genes.  They say that humans have eaten more acorns than all the crops ever grown since we became farmers.  Verify that!

In 2012 there were a lot of acorns where I live, and, compelled as I can be by them, I gathered quite a few, even taking my younger daughter out on a gathering mission.  What intrepid hominids we were.  We shelled them, leeched out the tannins with multiple soakings in water, roasted them, ground them, and made both acorn butter and acorn chocolate chip cookies.  it came out very well, but to say that there was little demand would be to radically exaggerate the demand.  Nonetheless, I wanted to do the acorn harvest/make food thing now that I have (since June 2013) a comfortable posting place.  I could be that demand was so low because the message really only got to about twelve disinterested souls.  Now it can get to thousands of disinterested souls and be memorialized forever wherever it is that internet bits go when they no longer live where first imagined, somewhere where some Spock in future times will say “Computer – tell me the first known internet publication concerning the harvesting of acorns and the making of acorn chocolate chip cookies” and of course, this will pop up like magic and the Federation will glide further toward glory.

Okay, okay – here is a bowl of them.  Gathered in about an hour.  Perhaps five pounds.  A post will soon follow where I take them them through the transformation to foodstuff.

Full Dish

On this gathering mission I took my faithful companion, to see if he had the disposition to perhaps train as an acorn hound.

Acorn Hound

To and fro he ran with great excitement, never once stopping for an acorn.  Even as I scrounged the forest floor picking up acorn after acorn.  Even as they fell at times nearly right upon us.  He was not interested.

Since this post is nominally about the harvest this year, let me also share the radishes, spoken of here originally.

Acorns with Radishes

For them a special fate awaits, to become half-sour Daikon spears.  Will advise on that.  Also I saved some 75 of their seeds, so next year is at least secure on the radish front. On the one hand, this is not the sort of a harvest that will contribute much to getting through the winter.  On the other hand though, well, perhaps this prototyping of fringe nutritional pathways will prove to be just the thing somewhere far down the road.





Radish Tales

This story, or these stories, end up starting perhaps eighteen months ago with an accidental rescue operation.  I was taking my mother to the new Asian supermarket in the area so she could see all of the wonderfully different things there.  We were in the produce area and there were a few vegetables that spoke to me.  It was how fresh they were, how not dead, as if they were saying ‘but, but, we want to keep living’.  Little leaves were growing even as they lay on the shelves.  Man’s inhumanity to vegetables on full display.  One was a clump of ginseng roots, the other a fairly large Korean radish.  I bought them with no intent except to put them back in the ground.  Outside in the parking lot I kept telling them “It’s ok, it’s ok – no one is going to hurt you now”.  Perhaps it was March of 2014.

I put them both in my vegetable garden, the ginseng in a shady back corner, the radish in one of the front boxes.  By May I had almost forgotten of the rescue operation when up vibrantly came a torrent of shoots from the radish.  Because she was mature and had so much radish energy stored these shoots progressed very rapidly to flower, light purple flowers, and lots of them, and all summer long they bloomed.  When I noticed the radish activity I check on the ginseng.  They too (there were five of them in the package I got) had put up leaves and even looked as if they were fixing to flower (they had buds) in June. I had to consider the rescue a big success.  Come mid-June though some critter must have taken a fancy to the ginseng.  Chewed off at the ground it was.  Rabbits sneak into the garden often enough, they are the number one suspect.

Anyway Momma Radish kept on blooming, as I said, and started then to produce what looked like miniature edamame, pods with multiple seeds – it is probably that I’d just never beheld the radish circle of life before.  I gathered some thirty to fifty of these pods from late summer to October.  During that summer we had also gotten a puppy and by the time autumn came he was fully enamored of digging.  Somewhere along the line he dig up Momma Radish, who was going to die shortly of natural causes anyway, and she served as a retrieval toy for a week or so.  A full life indeed.

The winter was among the worst in the memory of the living hereabouts.  Ten feet of snow, and often bitter cold too.  That’s not exactly part of the radish story, but it sweetens any tale of resurrection or resurgence.  When finally winter receded, and it was late, well into April I was quite behind in my normal seed planting rhythms  I don’t think I got a seed into the ground until late May.  The radish seeds though, they germinated explosively (in a figurative sense).  They pushed out leaves and down roots and you’d think they were dandelions on steroids the way they grew.  By early July here is one of them.

Radish early in Summer

I had quite a few and so I planted some here and there, did a little more research on them (the basic link is daikon), gave some to family, and stood back in wonder.  It was a busy summer work-wise, I did not get to pay attention day to day the way I would have liked.  I heard that one that I had given to my mother was doing very well.  They harvested it in August I think and it was enormous.  I hear that they are pretty low in nutrition though, that one should not be so amazed by their abundant size because they pack about as much nutrition as a regular sized tomato – maybe, if they’re lucky.

Mother's Radish

I’ve not harvested mine yet.  I bought a big bucket of first quality half-sour pickles recently though, really just for the brine, because I think they will pickle well.  That’s a lot of radish pickles I’m signing up for.  I sure hope they’re good.

A few pictures then, now that you have fuller context.  First the protruding mass of one, I think it’s the same one as in the July picture.

Radish mass

Then the seed pods with some purple flowers too.  You know I’ll be gathering said pods before pickling time.

Radish Seed pods\

and lastly, the dancing swirl of the dervish radish flowers – it would be a music both slow and wild, with a constancy of strength beneath it that belied the light movement and the delicate flowers.  Do click on the pictures.  Seeing the detail bring the story to life.

Radish Dervish Swirl and Dance


Tobacco 1

Certainly tobacco has been one of the most significant plants of the last 500 years, in terms of the fascination people have with it (addiction you might call it), and the awful way it has been used by corporations to profit at the expense of abused consumers.  Man’s inhumanity to man.

I must confess a fascination though with how it took this place of influence early on.  Did Indians chew leaves for strength?  The whole idea of smoking it – where did that come from?  Our ethnobotanical history intrigues me a great deal.  Was the plant itself somehow compelling or spell-binding?

Old Depiction

This summer I decided to grow some, as the witnessing of a plant from seed to fruit gives a lot of information,  Here are some in my tombstone oak porch planter, where I usually hold the annual Darwin games (wherein some variety of unknown seeds are sown to see which ones emerge the survivor).



It takes what would be called high heat (soil temps >= 70F) for the tiny seeds – I mean tiny seeds, ten times smaller than a poppy seed – to germinate.  Once they get started though they do take off.  I’ve yet to see anything beyond leafing as yet, the look like lettuce, but I’d like it to flower.  It’s another solanaceae – Nicotiniana Tabacum, and I have a long documented interest in this wondrous plant family.


I’ve looked around a little at all the material on the subject, how to cure leaves, how to roll cigars, modern uses (syrup, cocktail garnishes),  I have not yet made specific plans for how to use the leaves but I’m delighted with the prospect of starting from the source and seeing what is possible… use them in salads?  As with so many things it is not recommended that you try this at home and each use will be well researched before being undertaken.  Fun though.  More on this as it goes.


Lulo Flowers

or – finally!

One can’t be impatient with nature, or if one can’t help it, it’s not really going to help, at the very least.  You may have read my very bumpy tale of Solanaceae, wherein I recount many experiences of growing tomato cousins, many hopes, many bits of education as hopes and realities are vigorously juxtaposed.

Lulo Year 3

Witness this summer, my final surviving lulo, now three years old, has produced flowers.  I am delighted.  I am sincerely inclined to hope for fruit, as to bear fruit is the ultimate culmination, yes, that one seeks.  Maybe I’ve gotten too patient.  I am very happy that it has flowered – no lulo has graced me with such yet.  If it should bear fruit I will count a second delight.  For the moment though I am happy with the progress.  This is a spiny one too.

Lulo Flowers

It’s been a weird summer, hot and dry but then pouring then hot and dry.  Further updates will follow.  All the best to you dear readers.

Refusing to Die

There is little I love so much, especially when something is so seemingly dead that odds makers look with delight at the prospect of counting it out and taking bets to the contrary, than something that refuses to die.  This eucalyptus, I’m pretty sure it’s a Eucalyptus cneorifolia, the narrow-leafed Eucalyptus from Kangaroo Island off southern Australia, that the aboriginals know as the ‘Isle of the Dead’.

Twice now it’s gone nearly leafless, and it’s not deciduous, due to neglect when I’ve been traveling.  This time I thought it was gone for sure when I got home, having only one completely green and three partially green leaves.  Weeks go by, four of them.  I am pretty much ready to give it up.  Of course I water and examine during these times of final ebbing.

Sacrebleu!  It refuses to die.  Notice the lignotuber, how it is has done it’s part, and also even on the more central branches how new leaves come forth. Clicking on the images will reveal more.

Lignotuber Buds

Maybe ten years ago I’d written a haiku (several, actually, but only one relevant here that I’ll share/(burden you) with.  The idea here was not the wonder of those things that refuse to die, as wondrous as those things are, but more the way trees and things grow –

As this tree rises
unquestioning to the sun
may I also rise

That’s all for the moment, just sharing the bits that otherwise might escape.  All goodness to ye, fair readers.



Yesterday morning past my office door ran a vixen.  I grabbed the camera and chased barefoot.  Caught her (via camera) in the bamboo grove.  I love the way once they have about a hundred feet of distance they just stand and look at you, like ‘Really?’.

Fox in bamboo

She is raising her young by an old barn across the street.  My neighbor was stealthy enough to get a nice video.  I’ll ask if I can post it.  I think she (the fox) comes back here to hunt squirrels.  Over the harsh winter we fattened up at least four of them – they grew very brazen.  It seems they also grew a bit slow of foot – is that one hanging out of the foxes mouth?



Of Solanaceae, my experience with it, permit me to share.  Or better yet – of the perfection of a circle, let me speak! – but not really.  The Solanaceae family is very large, and in comparison my experience is very small, yet I’ve seen so much that connects the family and its members that speaking of them together unifies what otherwise would seem discordant potpourri.

Tomatoes I never remember disliking. My children liked ketchup but not tomatoes until unexpected mid-adolescent conversions overtook them. For me the first more detailed experience was my mother’s garden where for a few summers in my teens she had an abundance of plum tomatoes growing. For two months of these years there were reliably two dozen or more fresh ripe plum tomatoes on the counter in the kitchen. Being young and starved, although comparatively neutral to tomatoes at the time, I’d have few each day. They were sweet and fleshy and I evolved a game or ritual that caused me to know them much more closely. There were two goals – the first was to peel the skin off with the teeth without tearing the fleshy walls. This was a delicate act. Thoughtless nibbling would quickly fail. I don’t know that I even succeeded once the first year. Eventually I became good at it though, though I’m not sure I could do it forty years later with the same aplomb. The second feat was to then remove the fleshy walls with ones teeth without tearing the center to which the juicy seeds clung. Done properly one would have a little ball of gel-coated seeds, quite a thing to behold in the catalog of idle amusements. Probably it could be the subject of a photo-exhibition and captioning exercise. Here I’ve left some ground for the earnest seeker. It was never more than once a day that I could succeed at both challenges. How one holds the tomato becomes an issue, if the finer points are to be considered, and where one starts. The enhanced vitamin C intake caused by these exercises made them seem very bright.

I’d taken note, but hardly a special note, of the tomatoes flower. Small, white, with a yellow center, five petals. Any special thought about Solanaceae drop out here until my first shots at gardening, where peppers were a favored subject. By this time the internet had been born (not so in those early days) and one could gather all sorts of mostly true information and connections to persons who knew some things and from them obtain seeds. I had seeds of rocoto and fatalii and a Jamaican purple Habanero that I spent six years growing and have not since been able to find. The first year, observing the peppers grow, and seeing their small white five pointed flowers, and then considering their flesh, the thickness of their walls, the way that the seeds clumped and clung to the center, it was obvious to me that tomatoes and peppers were cousins – and the thing is, you don’t have to believe it – I did not read this, it just occurred to me. That’s something I so love about nature, that just by seeing one can gather so many true and meaningful associations.

The purple Jamaican Habanero – maybe it was not Jamaican – has a flower that can be white and purple, small and five pointed. The leaves are dark green/purple. The fruit is initially purple and stays purple and is quite edible that way until it approaches final ripeness where it turns a blazing red. The heat of these was hot for other peppers but not for the Habaneros of modern times.  It’s no ghost pepper or deadly scorpion or Comet Kohoutek pepper, for that matter. Very good chopped into a fish salad. I grew them in pots and would take them in for the winter. Doing this led me to discover how profoundly solanum attract aphids. I have pity for aphids when I hear the tales of their being cruelly farmed by ants. I’ve stumbled upon and watched such enterprises – I suppose it’s a symbiosis but not one I’d want to be part of on either side of the deal. Anyway the overwintering rate the first years was perhaps three of ten, and the ones that survived just barely. I don’t use poisons but will manually crush dense clusters of the aphids – perhaps I’ll spray soap, rinse them, but I’ve never really squelched and aphid infestation as effectively as putting them outside and letting natural predators do their job. Ladybugs. One year I was living mostly in a hotel in Syracuse. I’d had one of these plants in the suite I’d been given. Miraculously that year there were no aphids. It did well indoors in the fall and winter and when Spring came I asked the hotel staff if they’d plant it in their garden out front. Never have I seen a pepper do better. Daily care – a hundred fruits at least, and very beautiful with the green purple and red at ripeness. I picked bowls of them for the unwitting guests. These purple ones I kept around for several years but after a while one winter I was not quick enough in the face of the frost. I should have been more thoughtful about saving the seeds.  My first excellent specimen below, a really beautiful plant.


Of the rocoto in particular I must make a few remarks.  It has the thickest walls of any peppers I’ve known.  The seeds are black, also unique to them.  The leaves are hairy. Capsicum Pubescens, that’s how it got the name.  The heat of it is quite variable, gong from a low 7 to a mid 9 (for me 10 is 100K Scoville – anything more I’d put in the genre of stunt pepper). It’s flowers show a little purple sometimes. It has a quite different flavor, as peppers go, well worth growing. I grow these every several years. They have a long season not always fit for us north of Boston, in fact, I’ve never had them fruit unless I’d overwintered them. Were I truly thoughtful I suppose I’d start them indoors in new soil in January and thus thwart both the aphids and the shortness of light, but the ‘were I truly thoughtful’ is always chock full of rich possibilities. Dicing a few of these into a Thanksgiving turkey stuffing or incorporating them into a tomato/pepper base for a slow cooked short rib stew will certainly find admirers.

Here’s a picture of one of the first ones I grew.  The peppers themselves from this plant will eventually turn a wonderful red.  Other rocotos go out toward yellow or orange.



The Fatalii seems to be an African habanero, yellow, quite hot, with a flavor diverging from the standard habanero. One year I was able to grow these, seven peppers in all, to fruit in the same season as they sprouted. I made a hot Thai ginger scallop thing with them, snow peas too, a little coconut milk. I’m sure there’s a lot one could do with them. I now buy a puree that available of Fatalii only. Makes me lazy (as far as struggling to grow them).

Alright, so that’s the run of the mill. Remember the small five pointed flower and the fleshy walls and the seeds that cling to the center, sometimes dry and sometimes with gel? Walking around the yard it became clear to me – actually I first noticed it in potted plants I’d brought in for the winter, that there were these little tomato cousins, with a fruit the size of a pea, dark purple/black, born in little clusters of three to five. I squeezed one of the fruits and indeed, little gel coated seeds, fleshy walls – the joy of observing nature. Was it edible? Research research research – I know the solanaceae family has many poisonous branches (no pun) – mostly it’s solanine. It’s what makes green potatoes – oh, did you know, potatoes too are solanaceae – poisonous, but as they ripen the solanine somehow transforms into something else or otherwise diminishes and they’re just fine.  Tomatoes were thought poisonous. Of course this family too produces many utterly discombobulating alkaloids that no sane person would ever choose to court. The name nightshade and all – that’s what Solanum means in Latin. Solanum nigrum is what these little black fruits were from – black nightshade. The thing is that most people don’t know that these guys are just fine to eat if they’re ripe, and they’re delicious, tangy skin, sweet flesh. I’ve subsequently bought (over the internet) preserves made from them in Idaho. One day I’ll make my own, given time and grace enough. They’ve been called huckleberry, wonderberry, sunberry – great controversy arose in the early part of the twentieth century about whether they were the purposeful hybridization of a Luther Burbank or just a weed. Known in Hindi as Manatakkali. Every year five or ten of these will self seed somewhere at the edges of my gardens. I incorporate them in my harvest vegetable stew.

The hooded ones.  Here we drift over to the physalis branch of the solanaceae: Tomatillos, Chinese lantern plants and the cape gooseberry. Tomatillos are sour and slimy but they will grow in great profusion and supposedly add character to chili and other dishes. I grew them for several years, the green and purple and even a yellow kind, and attempted every kind of redemption I could conceive. Turkey tomatillo meatloaf? Tomatillo parmigiana (a la eggplant parmigiana – (you know the eggplant is yet another solanum)) but I have to say that even the a la eggplant parm approach, which would probably make cow flops pretty tasty, did not do so much for the tomatillo. The best was the chili verde angle with pork tenderloin – it’s not that they are still not slimy and sour, but it’s a little tanginess and thickens the liquid. Perhaps diced into ceviche? The cousins, the Chinese lantern plant for example, those berries are edible, but like the cape gooseberry aka peruvian goldenberry aka … I put those in the harvest stew when we grow them. The physalis peruviana is a lovely plant. The leaves can be hairy. Without aphids it would winter very well. The fruits are sweet and a little bit tart. I think I great pie could be made from these – I’ve had a preserve made from Hawaiian grown versions – I think they call it the poha there. Part of the familial relation between these solanacae is illustrated by this observation. One year I grew potatoes from cut up red potatoes I’d bought at the supermarket. The next year though it seems like potato beetles got wind (really) of my potato plantings and came and decimated the plants very early. Having done too good a job there they adopted the phys perviana – which was both a joy to see how the bug showed that these plants leaves taste the same and sad, of course, because what otherwise would have been a bumper crop of gooseberries was also destroyed.

Here, in succession, are pictures of an alluring cape gooseberry at dusk, a ravaging potato beetle on a gooseberry leaf, and a small chorus of ripe cape gooseberries, just before they begin to sing.

Cape Gooseberry at Dusk

Potato Bugs

Gooseberry Chorus

Before I get to the wonders of the kangaroo apple, I must first report on the sad frolics with the Tree tomato. This really is just more of a tale of unrequited desire. To keep it to the point, as this whole ramble is getting to have too many arms and legs, I’d always wanted a tree tomato, just because ‘how cool is that?’ – tomatoes, or almost, that grow on trees. Tamarillo seems to be what they are called, Solanum betaceum for you who are more formal, Tammy or Bettay for street dealers. I’ve ordered mature plants only to have them freeze on my doorstep, ordered seeds that seem never to grow. It’s not that ultimately there is anything so exotic about these, it’s just one of those things at the edge, wanted but never seen, chased but never overtaken, etc.

In March of 2009, at the Pasifika Festival in Western Springs Park in Auckland, I was very attentive to the flora, alert for things I’d never seen. After some browsing about I came across a bushy eight foot tall thing with purple branches and yellow cherry-tomato-like fruits. I quickly jumped to the conclusion that this must be an example of the tree tomato (tamarillo) that New Zealand had been trying to turn into a commercial crop for some time, so eagerly I took two of the fruits. I kept them on the counter in my apartment in downtown Auckland and watched them turn a rich orange as they ripened. After two weeks or so I sliced them open and indeed they were constructed just as tomatoes are, so I was confident of their identity. I let the seeds dry between a few papers in a notebook and eventually (accidentally) brought them back to America.

In June of 2009 I sowed them and 25 or so seedlings quickly sprouted. There was a bit of a heat-wave that July that killed the less hardy but I still had ten or so coming into the autumn. A few I gave to plant oriented neighbors, one to my mother and one to my sister, one to Maeve’s school and three I kept. Over the winter, in the dryness of the cactus room, they developed a nasty case of spider mites and I had to poison them several times to preserve their life. They came through into the spring just barely alive. I set them in the ground in late May and (it was very warm) they took off, growing new stalks, flowering, beginning to bear fruit. It was then that I had to address a nagging doubt, that despite the obviousness of the call that they were tree tomatoes, their leaves shape and flower color did not at all match the pictures of tree tomatoes I’d seen on the internet. I took a picture of one and sent it to an old woman I had met in New Zealand, and she confirmed indeed that these were not tree tomatoes, though she did not know what they were, though some grew near her house and she said she could find out but the thought they were poisonous. This confirmation goaded me to search the internet more vigorously for what they might be. Turns out the colloquial name is ‘Kangaroo Apple‘ – a.k.a. “New Zealand Nightshade”. Nightshades are funny plants, as are potatoes, being quite poisonous when green but entirely benign when ripe. It is said that Australian aboriginals quite like these kangaroo apples – and of course they’re smart enough to wait to eat them till they’re ripe. I tried a few in a salad – not exactly my thing, but bless biodiversity.

This aviculare also proved to be a trifle hardier than I expected – not that they could withstand the northern winters here – but one seed did sprout from a fruit that nust have fallen the previous year. Right now, at the end of 2014, is the first year I’ve been without them sonce that 2009. I recommend them as distinctly fun if you like watching plants grow. Especially the immature leaves, they have different shapes than the mature ones, almost like fingers on a hand.  Immediately following are pictures of a young one flowering one with fruits on the branch, and one selected by a beetle.

Solanum Aviculare Flower


Young Kangaroo Apples

Beetle on Kangaroo Apple 3

A few of the less common (upper here in the northeast of North America) solanace I’ve grown are lulo and pepino. Lulo – Solanum quitoense, also naranjilla, has some of the most beautiful leaves I’ve seen. A real delight to watch it grow. In three years though my three plants have never flowered, I guess i’m not puttng enough care into their care. The lulo is supposed to produce a fruit with a citrus flavor, despite not being of the genus citrus. The pepino (Solanum muricatum) is supposed to produce a fruit that is like a pear and a melon all at once, despite being a cousin of a tomato – I think this might be a good aspersion – “You cousin of a tomato!” – yet, like the lulo, for me, this plant has proven unvigorous, susceptible to pests, disinclined to bear flower or fruit. I’ll probably grow them till I get a fruitful outcome, but the journey will be far longer than I’d prefer.

A Lulo leaf below.  Some have thorns, some do not.

Naranjilla leaf


On the other side, quick to grow and fruit, three I can discuss. One year I ordered as many different kinds of solanum seeds as I could find from the internet. There were turkey berries, indian eggplants, I can’t even remember the many others. As with eucalptyi I lose track of the which is which with astounding reliability. Anyway one of these, I’m not sure which it was was deemed a no no by the US Agriculture Police. They actually came to my home because they had observed that I had bought one on the internet.  I think the problem was that if released into the wild it was very invasive – I’d bought monster seeds! Now inasmuch as I lose track of which is which I did my best to point out which the offending spawn was, and the good news is that I’ve had no outbreaks of evil plants, but the whole thing was strange. All sorts of plant material moves on thousands of channels all around the world. I certainly would not want their job.

Speaking of nasty solanums though, if you meet a Carolina Horsenettle (Solanum carolinense), do not indulge it. I saw a few of these a few years ago at the edge of the woods in Fairmont Park. I knew they were Solanum of some sort. Short and thorny with orange/yellow cherry tomatoes on it. Poisonous by every account. And tenacious- once you get a few growing they are not easly removed, as they propagate from their own roots, and so, unless fully dug out or poisoned hey will multiply.

The other nasty one, not because it’s invasive but because of it’s prickliness and poisonousness, is the porcupine tomato, Solanum pyracanthon. It’s actually a delightful plant to grow, very vigorous, very beautiful – just don’t touch it or eat it, and all will be well.  Watching them grow, especially for the first time, is quite a thing.

One Very Serious Baby Porcupine

Ornery Porcupines

I’ll close with one that sounds nasty but in fact has behaved very well – the cannibal tomato, Solanum Uporo.  As of December 2014 Wikipedia does not even have these yet.  They are from Fiji, are very like a tomato, are bitter, were supposedly favored by cannibals for adding to a happy homo sapiens stew.  I’ve grown them a few years, have not even gone so far as to try them with pork.

Ripe Cannibal Tomato

So there you have it, and thank you for your great patience if you’ve waded through all this.  This family of plants does fascinate me and with sufficient grace I’ll experiment much further with them.  Mostly though, it’s not even the prospect of what may be done but rather a sense of thankfulness at the wonder of them, that they are some sort of family growing in this tremendous diversity of ways across all of earth’s many environments and adapting to the presented conditions with such creativity.  Pretty awesome to me.

Horned Devil Seeds


Horned Devil Seeds

It must be ten years ago or more late one autumn that I was walking by a little lake and there were a ton of these beneath a tree by the shore.  Very curious, they were hard and black and the points were sharp and all in all these seeds just looked very fearsome.

I kept some in a cup and put them in the garage, not without reasonable misgiving.  For years they sat, never hatching, or sprouting, or doing whatever they were supposed to do. Finally a few years ago I decided to un-riddle the mystery. This might have taken a special research library when I was a child.  Knowledge is becoming so cheap – it’s like it’s not knowledge anymore, just facts passing through, available to anyone who has a moment, but what are facts but props for opinions anyway – be careful about getting involved with them.

Anyway, that picture is what I found at http://plants.usda.gov/java/largeImage?imageID=trna_002_ahp.tif which lead me to learn it’s a water chestnut (though not the one known in chinese cooking: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleocharis_dulcis), or water caltrop.  I had been fooled by the location next to the tree – these were underwater vines, underwater nuts.  The story is quite interesting http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_caltrop.  Apparently in ancient times Europeans would eat these both as a famine food and where agriculture was still nascent.  In America they are pernicious, invasive, certainly not native.

Chalk this post up to sharing knowledge/information.  I used to think I could meaningfully differentiate between those things.  I remember hearing once that knowledge was the organization of information such that it became useful.  I never liked that definition because it made knowledge little more than a servant of purpose.  I still don’t like that definition.  I’d like knowledge to mean ‘the possession of information whose character will never need to be revised because it is true’.  But I ramble a bit.  Knowledge, as I would like to consider it, is decidedly out of fashion in the internet age.  We have lots and lots of information.  Just a bunch of bits passing through.  Of course they’ll be different tomorrow than today.  And we tend to prefer the most common.

I am still hoping that nothing untoward is born from those seeds, regardless of all I have read.


Corny Chirp

Chirp of Life.

I’ve not posted since May – much work for a dollar, but it’s always a blessing to have work, so no complaint there.  Despite the neglect though, the plants took good care of themselves – apparently I’m not on their critical path.  One stalk of corn has done a record bit of growing, pushing 18 feet I daresay – you judge –

Corn 1 Corn 2

I am waiting for the ears from this one save as seed corn.  I have a few ears from its stunted brethren.  I think they must be understood as decorative.


Now something I’d never noticed before, was that corn has additional, aerial roots at each of the lower segments.  I’m still dwelling on why, or is vestigial, how much so, etc.

Corn 3

And last, a leftover from last year, an escapee, if you will, from that harvest, a runaway purple carrot

Purple Carrot

The light ebbs here, but it does that every year.


Late May 2014

A bit of a walk about town, gray day, what spoke. First some yellow buttercups in a creek Creek Buttercups

then some orange lichen very vivid on a gravestone Orange Lichen Fern flowers – if that’s what they are or more like spore bearing fronds – I think it’s a cinnamon fern – Fern Flowers of course baby grapes on honeysuckle – where has our mythology gone, there certainly should be a story about this Baby Grapes with Honeysuckle A furry resident Chipmunk   Some chinkapin oak leaves – I favor this tree because I planted it as an acorn and it’s not exactly native but it’s thriving and the leaves are lovely. Chinkapin Leaves   Some ginseng I rescued from an Asian supermarket – the roots looked so like they wanted to grow, and indeed four of them now do. Ginseng and lastly some hops that are overrunning the back end of the garden – I need do something about them Hops